There is something we always knew it existed, but we have shied away from addressing this because it feels more comfortable to do so, and because we are benefitting from this system.
When a vicious habit infiltrates an entire deadbeat system, yet so many work so hard to maintain it, solely because they benefit from it, something is terribly wrong!
When too many investors and shareholders, with their entourages traipsing along, don’t mind the system, something is wrong. When CEOs and high executives are mistrusted because they use their influence to get things done unethically, demonstrating harsh narcissistic behaviour and ego-driven leadership, something is not right.
But as long as people over-strive and over-perform, and benefit from such behaviour, others don’t seem to mind. As a matter of fact, any methods, even if unethical or illegal, seem just about good enough to achieve any mission. But this thinking is flawed as eventually things go down in flames at a high cost for many, many innocent people. The problem of a deadbeat system has gotten so out of hand that many just keep ignoring it, pretending it doesn’t exist instead of confronting it. In brief, these are people who have lost self-control and do anything to compensate, in an attempt to regain their control.
At the end of the day, this system causes enormous social suffering that many have been dealing with for decades, with enormous trauma, but not knowing how to tackle it. Many people are driven by arrogance and impatience are blinded to the fact that this behaviour leads to self-destruction and self-deprecation. Often people allow greed and stubbornness to propel them along in their doings. Today we know that desire is the positive pole of greed. Hence, this sacrifice is the positive pole of self-destruction as pride becomes the positive pole of arrogance.
When humility is no longer based on dignity or self-awareness, but self-deprecation instead, we only realise much later that something is terribly wrong with us: an audacious moment when our impatience eventually leads people to selflessness and martyrdom. Without a doubt, many benefit from narcissists, as they assume the role of ‘follower’ and happily accept that they are led by authority and control, happy as long as they are given a large piece of the pie to increase their image, reputation, position and recognition. So it is wrong to blame the narcissists entirely, especially when those who point fingers actually accept huge benefits – whether financial gain or some other sort of assistance – because they certainly did not object to receiving these.
There is a saying that some people are born, not made, as narcissists. In some ways our DNA imprints much of our future personalities, attitudes and aptitudes into our human form. But there are some paths we follow that are undeniably created by us, not born into us. Research shows that narcissism is one of those traits that appears to be programmed into a person’s behavioural repertoire after birth, not before. In fact, narcissism is based on two beliefs attributed to infants: omnipotence and limitlessness. This means that as infants, we have a grand craving for connection and control, to feel secure and to bond and belong. Bear in mind, before birth we spend the better part of a year swimming solo in an environment designed to cater to our every need. This isolation tank during pregnancy provides everything a developing baby needs. Then we are pushed out of this safe space into a world shockingly different from what we had before. A newly birthed baby’s equilibrium gets shaken up like a snow globe, which then demands substantial caregiving to feel safe and secure.
Today we know that such shortcomings in a person, a lack of safety and security, has a large influence on a person’s future paths, especially when taking on big leadership roles as an adult.
If we don’t feel secure, safe, inspired, serene and at ease, we naturally go out of our inner circle and redefine what security, safety, inspiration and serenity should be like to satisfy our inner cravings, but this is overly concentrated on the ‘self’, like a baby – self-centred, self-absorbed – as that is in the nature of each of us. This leads to an obsessive concern about appearances and positive self-regard.
Interesting enough, we throw the word ‘narcissist’ around about people who have never even met a mirror they appreciated or who brag and embellish their personal successes while belittling and feigning disinterest in the achievements of others. These are generally people who are incapable of ever receiving sufficient praise. That is why ‘letting go’ for narcissists is extremely difficult, because they are conflicted with deep private fears and anxieties rooted in powerlessness to let go of any failing relationship that brings any narcissist ‘face-to-face’ with their most combustible and incendiary fears. They lacked the secure and safe feelings while they were slumbering during pregnancy. Ironically, deep feelings of loneliness and separateness increase their narcissistic behaviour as an adult: narcissism is the missing reflection in the mirror they missed out on as they grew up.
Without a doubt, this is one of the most serious disorders of the 21st century that people, leaders in particular, cultivate. Even those surrounding them don’t recognise this disorder, because as the narcissist ‘over performs’, those around get filled with financial benefits and other external factors they deem to be a reward. Because narcissists have an over-fragile ego, they operate by threatening others to bolster their own feelings of security and safety in an effort to stay on top. A lack of self-awareness has been cultivated over a long period of time, ever since birth. They are striving for stronger survival because an earlier essential cycle of bonding and belonging never, or rarely, generated a level trust and acknowledgement of the natural separateness between ‘self’ and others. This is fundamentally critical for a person’s development in engaging with others.
Hence escape from this narcissistic cycle breeds further conflict that increases such habits, fighting against the need to let go. Escaping makes one dependent, and as dependence grows stronger and stronger, escape grows increasingly essential in proportion to the fear of ‘what is’. Such escape is significant, the greatest value. That is why in the thinking of a narcissist, one ‘must’ possess and control, otherwise people, teams and organisational systems are of little use to them. So they become very creative until they realise that others actually agree to be possessed by narcissists, believing the narcissistic can help them. This shows a mutual need to escape, so we have a mutual ‘use’ for each other: what many refer to as love, friendship, appreciation and passion. If we do not like who we are, we run away from ourselves and that which ‘truly is’.
We need to step back and ask ourselves these questions: Why do we so desperately want to be ‘somebody’? Why do we struggle to be superior? Why all these efforts to assert ourselves? Isn’t self-assertion the main cause of our conflict and confusion if we allow narcissism? Why can’t we survive without any physical ambition? Is not ambition an urge to avoid ‘what is’? Must we succeed in order to escape ‘what is’? How come we are frightened of our loneliness? Any activity engaging that ‘which is’ is bound to bring sorrow and antagonism. Conflict is the denial of ‘what is’ or the running way from ‘what is’ because there is no conflict other than that.
Numerous scientific studies have proven that omnipotence is impossible and that we face personal limitations in our reach to connect with and respect others. At the end of the day, life is all about a balance of separateness and togetherness and mutual support necessary for us to function. But narcissists build virtually impenetrable walls to protect themselves from learning these insightful truths. That is why they keep escaping from it. And other people don’t seem to rise to the challenge due to the limits of their own emotional development; they are lacking in the development of trust that their caregiver will meet their needs, or their needs for safety and security in the first place did not occur: unpleasant consequences are the result. That is why the only way narcissists think that they can survive is by control, by making others dependent on themselves and extending their boundaries way beyond any normal, healthy social circles. But while not ‘normal’, these behaviours feel normal and pleasant to the narcissist. Lust, envy, gluttony, sloth, greed, anger and pride – they go to great lengths to cultivate these, believing this necessary to ‘stay on top’.
To engage or challenge a narcissist is not at all easy; to make them aware that is their suffering stems from childhood or that significant disturbing life events ‘programmed’ them to believe narcissistic thoughts and behave in a narcissistic manner, is difficult. Therefore, breaking these habits is a long process that unfortunately may not ever occur unless one becomes fully aware – deep within – of their narcissistic behaviour. For that, one needs to comprehend the futility of effort in breaking such a habit. Giving up such a habit means losing security, safeness, inspiration, serenity and ease. Therefore, it is not a question of merely ending any habit, but a drastic shift in one’s entire understanding of ‘self’ consciousness and unconsciousness. It is a question of how we see the total structure of our habits by denying our resistance to ‘letting go’ and learning how to accept and forgive. To resist a habit, to fight in an attempt to escape from it, aggravates the habit and increases the continuity of the habit as we turn, yet again, to that habit. So any fighting further entrenches that habit.
But with awareness of our habit, we will find freedom from this habit. And in that new freedom, a new evolvement in terms of how we look, what we value and how we want to prosper, takes place.
It is only a dull sleepy mind that clings to a destructive habit. A mind that is attentive from moment to moment, attentive to what it is seeing and saying, to the movement of its hands, of its thoughts of its feelings, will discover that the formation of further habits will end abruptly. This is very important to understand, because as long as the mind is busy breaking down one habit after the other, it can never be free. It can only perceive something beyond itself. To be free, a mind must be aware of itself.